6 + 5 = She Changed my Life

Who wouldn’t fall in love?

Granma doesn’t have many rules but there’s one really important one: my Little People aren’t allowed to get older than 6. I’m unapologetically unwilling to make even one exception.

So today my firstborn Little Person turns 6 + 5.

Little Fairy Princess

July 19, 2001 was a birth day for me, too. It’s the day the Granma in me was born. Before then I was Princess to my Daddy; Sheree (pronounced wrongly quite a bit) to most others; Honey to Benny; and Mom to my seven J’s. But a new “me” was born when Kayla Sheree rushed into my world.

Watching my girl have a baby girl was breathtaking. Kayla made her entrance in a room of family members eager to welcome the first in a new generation.  That day she didn’t have to steal my heart. I gladly handed it to her. This tiny little person immediately clutched my heart till I thought it would burst with love. I had wondered for months how it would feel. Would it feel similarly to the seven times eager arms had held my own newborns? Or would it take some time to fall in love with someone to whom I didn’t give birth? I had been a birth assistant numerous times and felt a sweet bond with the little ones I watched come into the world. Would the warmth in my heart feel like that…or different?

That sweet smile remains…almost all the time.

Even today she loves being “Sissy”

I don’t remember answering those questions. I didn’t have to. I realized I loved her that first night I learned from surprised parents that she was coming; loved her more when I saw her tiny body on the sonogram screen; loved her again for being used by God to remind my daughter of what she wanted to be more than anything; loved that my Jaime Sheree wanted to pass along my name to the next generation; loved her with intense anticipation as I coached Jaime through contractions and assured her she would be worth it all. And then loved her all the more when I held her in my arms that first time. Because of her I had a new name.

I chose Granma because I wanted a “real” Grandmother name that didn’t sound anything close to Nannie. You see, no one could ever replace her. When my kids saw my mother, there was a sparkle in their eyes I only saw then. Nannie was the object of special love from my seven J’s. So I would be Granma and no one could compare me to “the best grandmother EVER!”

There’s that smile!

Watching her grow up has been so much fun! One of the perks of being Granma is that I get to experience all the delicious joy with none of the weighty responsibilities! From birth Kayla has been smiley and pleasant. A “starter baby.” I warned Jaime not to expect future babies to be so easy. She later thanked me for the warning. Smile.

The best thing Kayla did for me is bring light into several years of darkness. The years preceding her birth were hard ones for our family, culminating in the sudden death of Mom and Nannie in July 2000. Her birth almost one year later to the day reminded me that joy really does come in the morning. After she was born there was something to look forward to each day. Even when I didn’t see her, I got to ask, talk,think and journal about her. Pray for and anticipate seeing her. Hold, rock and sing to her.

She made me smile and laugh and hope again.

I will never forget the day she ran to me for the first time.  It was the fall of 2002 and she was 16 months old. I was standing in our church lobby on a Sunday morning when I saw Jaime out of the corner of my eye. Momentarily, I heard that sweet little voice and looked down. From across the room I saw her trotting toward me with arms extended. And it was there! The sparkle! Could it be that she loved me like my children loved Nannie?

And so I loved her again.

Such a great big sister to Wyatt, Annie and “Nae Nae”

She keeps doing that to me. How can love keep growing like this? I love her for caring so deeply for others; working hard to help Mommy at home; spontaneously squeezing and kissing her little sister or calling Wyatt her “buddy”; getting excited about babysitting lots of nieces and nephews (and not just when Uncle Josh gives her money); thanking me over and over for “letting” her come over to help me clean; opening up to her mom about things she hasn’t yet realized most kids don’t talk to their parents about; kissing and hugging me at least 3 times before we leave; making me notes that tell me I’m the best Granma ever; standing next to me each Sunday morning so we can worship and hug; and exclaiming that she just had “the best day” of her life whenever we do anything special together.

She’s becoming a young lady way too quickly!

Does it sound like I’m pretty self-aware when it comes to her? LIke it’s all about what she does for me and how she has enriched my life and makes me feel special?

Her laugh still lights up my world.

Hmmmm. I think you might be onto something. One man said grandchildren are great because they are born with an understanding that their grandparents are far more wonderful and smart than their mom and dad ever realized. I’m sure part of why I adore Kayla is because she thinks I can do no wrong. (Like the day she asked why I had been crying and I told her it was because I had been asking the Lord to forgive me of some sin.  “Granma, you don’t sin!!!!” she confidently exclaimed.) Or maybe because she rescued me from a long season of heartache and sadness, so I’ve become overly focused on how my life has been enriched by her.

Becoming Granma ten more times to the Little People who have followed her so far has created explosion after explosion in my aging heart of fresh love for those with whom, by God’s saving grace, I will spent eternity. I regularly remind myself that they will become the grandparents of those I will not meet until That day.

No; being Granma isn’t about me but about spending myself to leave a legacy of godly womanhood for little girls to follow and little boys to look for when it’s time.

Recently she asked if I was planning to take her to Tea for her birthday this year. (Like her mother, I have to remember to think before I do anything with her because if she has fun it will likely have to become “a tradition.”) I asked how long she expected us to do this each year.

“Till I’m 6 + 100!” Looks like she and I will be having tea in heaven. What fun that will be!

But for now it’s time to get dressed for a birthday tea with 6 + 5.

Happy Birthday, Nae!

Four years ago today Jaime called me. It was her fourth, “I might be in labor” call. I’ve learned that Jaime thinking she “might” be in labor means get in the car and start driving there.  Her last baby, Annie, was nearly born in the car on the way to the hospital. This time she decided to play it safe and have Danae at home.

Benny and several of our kids were on a youth retreat. Of course. They missed Annie’s birth because she came too fast. This time they were two hours away. But even though Lauren and Janelle were determined to get there and woke Benny up to leave right away, they arrived just a few minutes too late…

When I left my house that morning I didn’t realize I was about to come as close as someone can get to delivering their granddaughter. In our church up north, I was privileged to attend or assist at several births with my midwife friend, Martha. I had amnionic fluid dumped on me by one friend and almost watched another baby delivered into a toilet (sorry to any guys who visit here…smile). But no births have compared with those of my grandchildren. On that March day I was about to see my 8th grandchild come into the world.

Danae Jewel (named after Benny’s mom) was born while the midwife sat peacefully knitting her a newborn hat, assuring me I had enough babies and assisted with enough births that I knew what to do. With Daddy nearby and Granma sitting next to Mommy coaching her through her contractions, Danae rushed into our world and hearts.

A nasal cyst resulted in two surgeries and some scary interactions with specialists, but from day one we knew this was one special little girl. As you can see, her little eye swelled with infection but even in the hospital with an IV stuck into her scalp, her smile remained. While her hospitalization and surgeries were challenging, I had a front row seat watching my daughter tenderly care for her sick baby girl. My respect for Jaime soared during those days. I knew she was a strong woman — but her trust in God inspired me and made me fall in love with my own little girl all over again.

Today Danae is a healthy, beautiful and vibrant toddler. Her smile still lights up the room and reminds me so much of her Mommy’s. Yes, she hits her sister, sometimes whines when she doesn’t get her way and is pretty protective of her My Little Ponies. After all, her adorableness can only mask her sin for so long. She needs a Savior, and I’m praying today that He will draw her heart to Himself at an early age.

Happy Birthday, Nae Nae! Granma hopes you enjoyed your grapes for dinner last night. I love you and can’t wait to see Jesus turn you into a godly young woman who loves Him. Maybe in a lot of years I’ll still be writing and bragging about you. With pictures.